Celebrity chef Paul West has backed the city’s fresh food revolution and is full of praise for the Maitland produce market.
The River Cottage Australia host, who will drop in to The Levee this weekend to cook at Maitland Taste Festival, said the city should be proud of how far it has come in 12 months.
“To go from a concept to a thriving market in 12 months is a fantastic achievement that deserves to be applauded,” he said. “To start with two producers and now be looking an an expansion far beyond that, it sounds like the market is a success.”
“When you hear about communities doing this for themselves and emerging growers being supported and communities building this kind of resilience through local food, it’s very heartening.”
Mr West said a weekly market was the best model to help shoppers fully support the city’s farmers and he was pleased the city was working towards that format.
“Monthly is hard for people to support in terms of food buying, but you’ve got to start somewhere,” he said.
“It’s got to be supported by the community, it is the prerequisite, if that kind of outlet isn’t supported wholeheartedly then it isn’t financially viable.”
Mr West said there was a groundswell of farmers markets popping up across the country and nutrition was not the only thing it offered.
“It’s about getting people excited about their food and that their region is producing food and tapping into that old notion of knowing your supplier – whether it be the butcher or the baker or the vegetable grower, the green grocer, having those relationships,” he said.
“As human beings we crave relationships and that human contact with the community – it’s how we feel safe and connected.
“By supporting a local food economy you can really satisfy that need of connecting with your community.”
The fertile river flats around the city have Mr West excited and he is looking forward to using local produce in his cooking demonstrations.
“As a cook it’s very exciting because each region has its own unique produce to offer, so it’s always exciting discovering and working with that,” he said.“Those river flats at Maitland are something to be very envious of, there is a really long and prestigious food-growing history in Maitland. I guess once upon a time it was the food bowl of the entire Hunter Valley.“It’s a pretty amazing place.”
Mr West will butterfly a pastured chicken on the barbecue and cook some other delectable dishes.
He said pastured chicken was the “pinnacle” of the meat poultry world.
“The flavour, the fat, the nutrients, it’s on a different stratosphere to free range chicken,” he said.
Catch up on the Maitland produce market’s history here.